Look, everyone’s different. Some people celebrate Easter with a trip to church, a delicious meal with their loved ones, and maybe an adorable easter egg hunt for the kids. While others celebrate by building explosives and then firing rockets into a church.
TO EACH THEIR OWN (we always say). And the city of Vrontados located on the Aegean island of Chios certainly has their own unique spin on the holiday. Every year, the Greek island makes and stockpiles fireworks and rockets for their Easter celebration which draws tourists from all over the world.
The festival called, Rouketopolemos, involves two churches with a several hundred year old rivalry: Agios Markos and Panagia Erithiani. And every year (going back to sometime in the Ottoman Empire) the churches face off in a rocket war. Over the course of the night, tens of thousands of rockets are fired at each other across the valley. The goal is to strike the other’s bell tower. And the church that provides the most direct hits on the other is considered the “winner” of the battle. The result is a crazy display of fireworks and rockets that light up the night sky from miles around, and cause a good amount of property damage to both the churches and surrounding homes. But you know what they say, “You can’t make a rocket omelet on Easter without cracking a few eggs…” Or something like that.
It’s an awesome party. And if you’ve ever wondered what it would look like if Michael Bay directed Easter Sunday and called it “The First Transformer: Rise of the Son” then Rouketopolemos should be on your “must do” list.
The event is understandably not beloved by all. Some residents don’t care for the yearly property damage or influx of partying tourists who plan to drunkenly set off explosives (is there any better time to shout, “USA, USA, USA” than when trying to set off a firework after shotgunning 7-8 beers? Doubtful!). But as the tradition has continued for hundreds of years, it looks like it’s safe for a little longer.
So, as Zayn says in his song Pillowtalk, “So we’ll piss off the neighbours…It’s our paradise and it’s our war zone. Paradise, paradise, paradise, paradise. War zone, war zone, war zone, war zone. Paradise, paradise, paradise, paradise. War zone, war zone, war zone, war zone.”
Truer words were never spoken. Sing on poet, sing on.